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Full text of "My Country And My People"

THE    CHINESE    PEOPLE                    19

boys. Over half a century ago, Hunan in the middle of China
produced Tseng Kuofan, the exception that proves the rule;
for although Tseng was a first-class scholar and general, being
born south of the Yangtse and consequently a rice-eater instead
of a noodle-eater, he was destined to end up by being a high-
minded official and not by founding a new dynasty for China.
For this latter task, one needed the rawness and ruggedness
of the North, a touch of genuine lovable vagabondage, the
gift of loving war and turmoil for its own sake—and a contempt
for fair play, learning and Confucian ethics until one is sitting
secure on the dragon throne, when Confucian monarchism can
be of extreme usefulness.

The raw, rugged North and the soft, pliable South—one can
see these differences in their language, music and poetry.
Observe the contrast between the Shensi songs, on the one
hand, sung to the metallic rhythm of hard wooden tablets and
keyed to a high pitch like the Swiss mountain songs, suggestive
of the howling winds on mountain tops and broad pastures and
desert sand-dunes, and on the other, the indolent Soochow
crooning, something that is between a~ sigh and a snore,
throaty, nasal, and highly suggestive of a worn-out patient of
asthma whose sighs and groans have by force of habit become
swaying and rhythmic. In language, one sees the difference
between the sonorous, clear-cut rhythm of Pekingese mandarin
that pleases by its alternate light and shade, and the soft and
sweet babbling of Soochow women, with round-lip vowels and
circumflex tones, where force of emphasis is not expressed by a
greater explosion but by long-drawn-out and finely nuanced
syllables at the end of sentences.

The story is recounted of a northern colonel who, on
reviewing a Soochow company, could not make the soldiers
move by his explosive "Forward March!" The captain who
had stayed a long time in Soochow and who understood the
situation asked permission to give the command in his own
way. The permission was granted. Instead of the usual clear-
cut "K'aipu chou!" he gave a genuine persuasive Soochow
"kebu tser nyiaaaaaaaah!" and lo and behold! the Soochow
company moved.

In poetry, this difference is strikingly illustrated in the